A Dog’s Journey
A Dog’s Journey is for animal lovers and people everywhere who love a good story. Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) are helping raise their granddaughter C.J. after their son has passed away. C.J. and her mother, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), live with them. But despite Ethan’s love for his dog Bailey and he and Hannah’s showering their beautiful granddaughter with love and attention, Gloria doesn’t like dogs or living with them. She has been vulnerable since her husband’s death, and she decides to take C. J. and leave, which breaks the hearts of Ethan and Hannah. They beg their daughter-in-law to stay but to no avail.
Jump ahead several years and C.J. is seen first as a young girl and next as a young woman (nicely portrayed by Kathryn Prescott), still living with her mother who is never home and who drinks a lot. If it weren’t for the friendship of Trent (Henry Lau) there wouldn’t be much of a spark in her life. And although Bailey has gone to that big dog house in the sky, he comes back as a female dog named Molly, and later as Big Dog, and still later as a cute little terrier named Max. He is always there to protect C.J. She knows she enjoys writing songs and singing, but not much else is gelling in her life. She goes through a couple of boyfriends, but she runs into her old chum Trent, who has just moved to New York after working in England for a while. Although neither one will admit it, C.J. and Trent have feelings for each other that go beyond friendship. As Max notes this, he thinks to himself, “Go on, lick each other’s faces!”
The intriguing thing about this movie is that it is not just a cute little movie. It actually features some dramatic themes such as C.J.’s mother being a poor mother with a drinking problem, and Trent coming down with cancer, losing his hair but never his hope. C.J. is there for him, to support him and care for him too. Ethan and Hannah try to see C.J. when she’s older but Gloria once again refuses and breaks their hearts a second time. The movie does have some humor laced here and there so as to not be overly dramatic. When C.J. takes in the dog, now known as Molly, the dog runs to C.J.’s room and immediately attacks a cat poster on the wall and brings it down!
Since believing in your abilities is important, we see a good example of this in the movie when Trent encourages C.J. to get past her stage fright and to sing in front of people, the thing he knows she’s meant to do. The love and affection of the dogs, with Bailey changing breeds, opens up humorous moments but also nicely displays the loyalty of dogs to their “families.” Will Ethan and Hannah ever see C.J. again? Will Gloria ever sober up and realize she’s been a bad mother? Will C.J. and Trent finally admit their feelings for each other? Will C.J. ever sing in front of people? You will have to watch the movie to see but the resolutions of the story are handled nicely.
Due to some mature scenes, such as C.J.’s first boyfriend, Shane, forcefully grabbing her and shaking her, and various other sophisticated themes including death and grief, we are awarding this film our Dove Seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
If you love a good story, good actors, and animals, not to mention some laughs, this charming movie is for you!